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Why lack of sleep will make you ill

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New research has revealed that lack of sleep damages the immune system, making it more likely that someone who does not get enough rest will get poorly.

The study, carried out by the UW Medicine Sleep Center looked at 11 pairs of identical twins, who had differing sleep patterns. Blood samples were taken from them, which revealed the twin who did not have as much sleep was suffering the effects in their immune system.

The research is one of the first of its kind to look at real life situations to examine how not getting enough shut eye can have an adverse impact on white blood cells, which are vital for the immune system to stay in top condition.

Seven hours

Dr Nathaniel Watson, who was the lead author in the study, said that getting seven or more hours of sleep was important for health. The research team decided to look at twins because previous studies have revealed that genetics makes up more than half of sleep behaviour.

This is part of a growing body of research which shows that not getting enough sleep can have a detrimental effect on the body. Previous studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get rhinovirus than those who are more rested.

However despite the warnings, researchers say that people in the US are sleeping between one and a half and two hours less than they did a century ago. About a third of people who are working sleep less than six hours each night.

Study authors said that light, technology and competing interests of time had led to people deprioritizing sleep. However, they added that their research added to evidence that sleep is vital for overall health. Their research follows earlier research which found that sleep deprivation was costing the economy billions because of working days lost to illness.